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Landing Spots – Remaining NFL Free Agents

So players still need landing spots. With the new season more than few weeks old now much of the player movement has occurred. Likely now the big deals that are to be done will be as a result of either those last few roster holes to fill or because injury hits a team and a replacement is needed.

Whilst players received huge contracts others have had to sit around and watch as demand grew less and less. Some are still available as they’re holding out for what they feel they’re worth. Others are having to fight against perceived (or very real) injury issues and concerns. Either way there are moves to be made, some of which will be absolute bargains. Others will not be, they will just flat out not work out.

Teams will get better as a result of these, lets see who. I should say, these are some of my favourite remaining Free Agents, they may not be ‘the best’ but they could all have a serious effect if they land in the correct spots.

Richard Sherman (CB) – New Orleans Saints

The fanfare surrounding Richard Sherman has certainly faded over the last couple of years. That said he’s still a highly effective, super knowledgable individual who offers a lot to whichever franchise he ends up with. He has publicly stated that he wants to play at least another two years with a ‘contender’.

If the Cowboys could be seen as a serious contender then I would have pegged him to them. The thing is they aren’t and Sherman isn’t long for this league. He doesn’t have time to waste whilst the Cowboys Defence performs averagely at best. There was some traction to the idea that he could follow Robert Salah to the Jets but I think the draw of competing for one more ring will trump all other considerations.

The team after the one he signs with next will be the team that he can cut is coaching teeth with. For now however it is all about who gives him the best shot at making a run to the Championship. The Saints structured Tackle Ryan Ramcyzk this week ad now have approximately $10m free cap space, more than enough for Sherman. Couple that with the fact that opposite Marshon Lattimore the Saints currently have Safety C.J. Gardner-Johnson as a starter and we have a good fit. Sherman would offer high quality support and relief at a position the Saints are relatively weak at.

One outside contender who have a recent history of signing older vets on the back 9 of their careers does present itself. The Cardinals have a need for a corner who can start immediately. Whilst I can see this as a fit, I am not sure Sherman’s body could hold up to the starting role that he would need to play whilst the rookie CB’s drafted can develop behind. On balance, I think Sherman profiles as more of the relief role the Saints would use him for than a full-time starter these days. It’s the Saints he is off to.

Other possible destinations – Seahawks, Cowboys, Eagles, Raiders.

Todd Gurley (RB) – Baltimore Ravens

A former offensive OROTY and a team that runs the ball more than any other. Seems like a no-brainer and I can certainly appreciate the thinking behind the move. What Gurley will need to do at this stage of career if he is to make this move happen is to accept he is now a role player at best. No longer is he the lynchpin and workhorse on a contender, his knee has put paid to that. Oh, he has only played for 6 seasons mind….just think about that. It seems much longer.

Watching the fall of Todd Gurley has been heartbreaking. I remember watching him run over teams as if they were nothing. Those couple of seasons were so much fun to watch! These days Gurley still offers a legitimate goal line threat and is used sparingly, a production out of the backfield with hands in the top 5% of the league at the position.

The Ravens use a running back a lot. Having insurance on board and another body to split the workload makes too much sense. If they do sign Gurley, and find a way to keep him fit, then this could be a steal. No longer will Gurley command the 8 figure salary he once did.

Other teams have shown interest, Gurley visited the Lions last month before the Ravens. He obviously has some sense however as he left as quickly as he could (I imagine). IT is also worth noting Gurley grew up a Ravens fan, if he is going to accept a low salary from anyone why not them. The only consideration is whether the Ravens would want to carry a 4th RB, I say 4th as Justice Hill is going nowhere due to what he brings to Special Teams. For someone who offers the upside that Gurley does, I can see it.

Other possible destinations – Lions, Chargers, Bills, Patriots.

Todd Gurley – could he have a resurgence in Baltimore? (Image Credit – The Sportsrush)

Justin Houston (Edge) – Baltimore Ravens

Ok, back to back same team predictions wasn’t my plan. It just so happens that I think with the Ravens being so close to where they need to be, that they spend a little more this offseason than ordinarily. For them to sign both Houston and Gurley will require some salary cap magic. What the Saints and the Bucs have done however shows us that anything is possible in this day and age.

It is also well known that the Ravens have a stark need at Edge Rusher. There are other options however it is apparent that Houston is their number 1 choice. All they need is for him to drop his reported $12m a year salary request. The longer that the offseason goes on for, the more chance I think, that happens. The Ravens obviously offer a team who are ready to make another run at the playoffs. With Houston at the end of his career that will always be a consideration.

There will be other suitors. Much to Ravens’ fans concerns, the Steelers are in the market for a replacement for Bud Dupree. They do not have a healthy cap situation however, but we won’t let that remove anyone form consideration these days (within reason). The Minnesota Vikings are another who could use Houston’s help.

Does he have much left in the tank? Last year he took a step backwards for sure. PFF graded him the 64th best Edge Defender, compared to 8th the year before and 14th before that. He will still offer situational help and teams value that.

Other possible destinations – Steelers, Vikings, Chiefs, Colts.

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Malik Hooker (S) – New England Patriots

Throughout his career to date Hooker has had to face a lot. He has been struck worse than most by the injury bug and he also hasn’t featured as much as he would like in schemes that accentuate his strengths. A natural free safety, Hooker came out of college to much fanfare. He was called the ‘ultimate lurker’ for a Safety that is a great tag. At Ohio State we saw these skills flash in limited games. He was all set to become a long time impact starter in the league. Then his body failed him…

As he looks to recover and re-establish himself in the league many teams could do worse than take a chance on him. Another I would like to see come to the Ravens, they have needs elsewhere. To me Hooker has all the hallmarks of a Patriots reclamation project. With Devin McCourty set to retire sooner rather than later Hooker would have the chance to get back to full strength, absorb the complex Patriots playbook and be ready to challenge Jalen Mills to be McCourty’s long term replacement.

Hooker has visited the Dolphins but when they selected Javon Holland I think that ended that short-lived relationship. Other options in the form of teams such as the Eagles and Lions will always be there as they have entire squads that need overhauling. If the Patriots come calling though I don’t see how Hooker says no. If he has the nuts to work hard and commit then it could be perfect for him and the Patriots could well get the guy that the Colt were supposed to in 2017.

Other possible destinations – Cowboys, Eagles, Lions, Falcons, Raiders, Ravens.

Malik Hooker (Image Credit – Baltimore Beatdown)

Kwon Alexander (LB) – Cincinnati Bengals

Coming back from an Achilles tear isn’t fun or easy. There is a reason that Alexander was one of the first out of the door when the Saints needed to clear cap space. To come back without losing a step is even harder. There are other teams who have issues at LB, the regulars already in this article, the Eagles, could well use Alexander. The Benglas though hve been rather adept at recruitment in the back 7 of their Defence over the last year.

They have plenty of cap space and are a team who could handle the upside gamble on a player like Alexander as they’re not at the point where they have to hit on players to mount a Super Bowl challenge yet. They have the luxury of a year or two where they can build and this kind of risky move would be well worth the punt. The upside, they get a legitimate star at the position for what would be a knockdown price. The risk, that Alexander never fully recovers, gets released, and the Bengals move on.

Not being tight to the cap allows for this kind of gamble and if it goes right, the Bengals get their Middle Linebacker of the future, he is only 26 years old! As I mentioned earlier, the Eagles should be in play here as should teams like the Giants and the Raiders. That said, with those options, the chance to be part of what could well be a resurgent Bengals team with the answer (it would seem) at QB makes the most sense.

Other possible destinations – Giants, Broncos, Eagles, Chiefs.

Kelechi Osemele (G) – Los Angeles Chargers

As a rookie he won a Super Bowl. His second contract was a big money move. Osemele’s early career was as much of a dream start as he could have hoped for. Since then however it has not been gravy for Kelechi. He was traded to the Jets where he underwent un-approved surgery and was released months after the trade. Injuries have been a part of his recent history and this is what teams must consider.

What they must also consider though is that prior to his troubles he was a multiple pro-bowler and at one time the second highest paid Guard in the league and was voted 95th best player in the league. Teams looking to solidify their Offensive Line and are willing to take a risk could do far worse. Enter the Los Angeles Chargers.

The Chargers are undergoing quite the O Line transformation and it is going very well. Corey Linsley, Matt Feiler and Rashawn Slater are 3/5 of the new line. Brian Bulaga is also not an unknown. The weak link is Oday Aboushi, a journeyman Right Guard who is going to be targeted. Osemele, if fit would be a day 1 starter on this revamped line and would add a lot of extra strength to the right side of that line. I love the fit so much I cant see another team who he would fit better with right now. So I am not even going to countenance another team landing him.

Other possible destinations (as I have to) – Bears, Cardinals, Chiefs, Texans, Vikings.

Kelechi Osemele – So underrated as a Free Agent! Seriously… (Image Credit – Chiefs Wire)

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